Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool Get Me Excited!


I mentioned when Jurgen Klopp was appointed as Liverpool manager that it could be an ideal time for both the club and the manager.

It just seemed like a perfect fit.

Now as the season comes to a close, Liverpool are one of the sides that are probably wishing that they had an extra month or two.

After a few months of finding his feet in English football, Klopp seems to be getting the very best out of his squad at this crucial stage of the season.

At the time of writing, the Reds are in eighth spot in the Premier League and could yet finish in the top six. Now that isn’t overly exciting in itself.

But in the bigger games in the league, Klopp has managed to get his team playing with a style and passion that gets results. It started with a 3-1 away win at Chelsea, they thumped Manchester City away at the Etihad 4-1 and then 3-0 at Old Trafford. They are also the only team, other than Arsenal, to pick up a win over new crowned champions Leicester City. In the last Merseyside derby they smashed Everton and made the Toffees look so bad that Roberto Martinez is now one foot out the door at Goodison.

Now consistency is still an issue for Liverpool, drawing and losing ten times each isn’t good enough.

But Klopp has still to get a preseason under his belt at Anfield and still has to make the changes to his squad that will see him bring in his own type of player and get rid of some of the deadwood in the dressing room.

The German also guided his team to the League Cup final, where they narrowly lost out to Man City on penalties.

But it has been in the Europa League that has been Liverpool’s shining light during this campaign and it could be the competition that sees the Merseyside giants return to the illustrious Champions League.

Many an English side has previous looked at the Europa League as an annoyance, a distraction and a bit of a Mickey Mouse Cup.

That’s not been the case with Klopp this season. He has seen the competition as being the ideal way to win silverware and get into Europe’s elite competition.

Now only Spanish cracks Sevilla stand in there way of the prized trophy and all it’s rewards.

When Liverpool and rivals Manchester United were paired together in the last sixteen, United were seen as the favourites. Man Utd boss Louis van Gaal had a very good record against Liverpool.

But in truth, United were poor and Liverpool dominated the first leg at Anfield that finished 2-0 to the home side. That was an ideal scoreline for Liverpool as they had a two goal lead and didn’t concede an away goal.

In the second leg Philippe Coutinho scored at a perfect time (just before half-time) to equalise at Old Trafford, the game then petered out and finished 1-1. Liverpool simply took the hope away from Man Utd and the home crowd.

It showed that Klopp knew that he could get the best out of his squad over two legs, much like Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.

After Man United, Liverpool were drawn against cup favourites Borussia Dortmund.

Obviously the build up surrounded the return of Klopp against his old side. That worked in the manager’s favour as he took the attention away from his players.

If you read much of the press beforehand and you’d never give Liverpool a chance over Borussia Dortmund, who destroyed Tottenham Hotspur in the previous round.

Klopp played with young Belgian striker Divock Origi up top by himself and it worked a treat. He managed to grab the vital away goal and worked tirelessly all game.

Once again the players worked to Klopp’s plan and held their discipline throughout. Again it showed he has that tactical nous that can edge games/ties.

In the return game at Anfield, we were all treated to an absolutely delightful game.

I am not a Liverpool fan but even I had goosebumps watching this game as both sides went all out and would attack each other. It reminded me of an old fashioned heavyweight boxing contest that saw both bruisers stand toe to toe and punch each other in the face!

Dortmund raced off with a two goal lead inside the first ten minutes. Once again everyone and their dog wrote off Liverpool’s chances. Their bottle seemed to have crashed.

Then just like that fateful night in Istanbul, Liverpool came back with an early goal in the second half. But hopes were again dashed when Marco Reus restored Die Schwarzgelben’s two goal lead.

Liverpool had to score three times in the last half hour to get through, while also not conceding again.

The talismanic Coutinho popped up with a goal in the sixty-sixth minute to reduced the deficit.

Defender Mamadou Sahko, who by this time resembled a Spartan warrior, headed in the equaliser with under fifteen minutes to play and set up the grandstand finish.

At that stage everyone knew that only one team was now going to win and that was the passionate, dynamic home side.

Then in the first minute of injury time the much maligned Dejan Lovren struck and put Liverpool through.

When the full-time whistle blew the crowd, the players and manager were going crazy with euphoria. It was almost as if they all bonded and became one in that moment.

It was a joy to watch and there are few sights in the game at the moment better than seeing Klopp smile and interact with his players with hugs and fist bumps.

He also understands his team’s support and has the upmost respect for them and vice versa.

For me that one game showed me again how football can be so joyous when two superb teams just go at it and lay everything on the line for that special moment and reward.

Going back to Lovren for a second, as I said he has been a much maligned character since his £20m move from Southampton.

But under Klopp, the Croatian centre-back has transformed into top performer for the club and now looks to be a fine long term replacement for Jamie Carragher. He’s no longer reckless and playing as if he just wants to justify his price tag. He’s just doing the small things properly, which is what you want from your defenders.

In the semi final stage, Villarreal took a one goal lead into the second leg at Anfield. But Jurgen knew that the tie wasn’t done. The German again showing the world that he thinks about the two legs collectively rather than just worry about ninety minutes.

Klopp demanded a loud Liverpool crowd to intimidate their opponents and Anfield was once again rocking under the floodlights.

In the first leg, the German left Daniel Sturridge on the bench. That came with a lot of criticism.

Klopp returned the striker to the side for the second leg and he played as if he had a point to prove.

He would pressure Bruno Soriano into making a mistake early on and the defender would put the ball into his own net. The striker would then double the lead with a low finish. Liverpool added a third as Villarreal collapsed with Adam Lallana steering Sturridge’s shot beyond the keeper.

I honestly think Klopp has managed Daniel Sturridge well. He has questioned his commitment and then has defended him when the press did the same. By leaving him out of the first leg, he put fire in the English striker’s belly and that’s what was needed.

I would also like to point out that Roberto Firmino has improved greatly since Klopp took over the hotseat at Liverpool. He is a match winner with his skills, runs, assists and goals.

In the big games he can play as a false number nine. He drops off, creates space and picks the ball up and just run at defenders. It is often stunning to watch. They way he can dovetail and work well with Coutinho is also joyous.

So when you think that Jurgen Klopp has done all this with a squad that he has inherited, it must be great being a Liverpool fan at this moment as they wait and see what he does next.

The charismatic German plays to the crowd and to the press as well. He has uplifting, creative tactics that has improved Liverpool beyond belief this term. The players seem to enjoy working for him and sticking to his game plan.

It will be a very interesting summer for Liverpool, the board need to support their manager and back him. It could be made so much easier if Jurgen and his players return from Basel with the Europa League and a place in next seasons Champions League.

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